My longest gig ever
posted on July 2nd, 2012

I think I played my longest ever show last night, at Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.

Hebden Bridge (stunning little Yorkshire valley town in the Pennines, fierce non-conformist spirit, steep hills) is recovering from horrendous floods last week. It’s amazing the Arts Festival went ahead really; many businesses and cafés are still shut to clean themselves up. So for emergency venue logistics reasons, my gig in the brand new (not quite finished) Town Hall needed to run concurrently with an improvised dance performance downstairs (since my audience had to walk across their stage to get to me, or more importantly to the bar!).

So I was asked to do two sets, with the first one lasting at least 40 minutes, so both audiences would go for their interval drinks at the same time. Inevitably then my second set just stretched out – it ran well over an hour in the end, so total performance time works out at 1 hour 55 minutes.

I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Right now it feels great as an ‘achievement’ but obviously that has nothing to do with ‘ace’ or ‘shite’ gigs, really. The audience was proper lovely and (I’m sure) was honestly up for an encore, so that’s a good sign after 90 minutes I guess.

Mostly I’m pleased I can do that with songs to spare (for example as soon as I walked off I was annoyed for missing out ‘The Shape We’re In’) and I’m proud to say that although there was a bit of thinking beforehand about song running order, I didn’t use an actual setlist, instead mentally connected ‘chunks’ of different sets that work well together. 🙂

By the way, if you were there and have an opinion on the lengthy set – criticism is fine – do let me know.

Here’s the set, it’s 26 songs:

Love Is Not Rescue
A Box To Hide In
Open Books
Old Men
A Plague On Both Your Houses
Preaching To The Converted
What If My Heart Never Heals?
7 Hearts
Stop Listening
Open & Shut
M1 Song
Shit From All Angles
The Huntsman Comes A-Marchin’
The Tin Man
Words Fail Me
Tall Woman
Elephant In The Room
The English Earth
Lines & Squares (A.A. Milne)
Market Square (A.A. Milne)
Tomorrow Morning

Then I drove home to Brighton. Get me, with the stamina.

*EDIT* By the way, I forgot to say: on my last tour I opened and closed with two Milne poems; ‘Halfway Down’ and ‘Come Out With Me’ (which then reprises a verse of ‘Halfway Down’ at the very end). If you’re (by any chance) wondering why I didn’t do that – and why there are only two Milne poems in the set, just thrown in the encore – it’s because I also performed the full Disobedience A.A. Milne show at HBAF the previous day – and there were some people who came to both shows. So I wanted to minimise crossover. That’s also why I didn’t play ‘Hedgehog Song’ – it’s in the Milne show too.

  1. Kitty_Pickle
    12:13 am on 7/3/12

    What can I say, it was one of the best gigs I’ve been to in years.
    It didn’t feel like a long gig at the time, it just felt right (if that makes sense). I only realised how long it had gone on afterwards when none of us said “oh but I wish he’d played X” as someone always does after a gig. The most impressive aspect to me was the range of material you played, and I think it’s fair to say some of it is challenging too. I for one find Ankles uncomfortable to listen to (but I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing). Likewise, the first verse of Huntsman is a bit close to home in Hebden (though thankfully it was never a hunting area) .
    It was an unconventional set up but that added to the atmosphere once everyone started chatting and that’s why it just kept going on, it felt like the random stuff people were chatting about just sparked another song. I’m not sure, after reading your blog, if that’s correct but it’s how it felt to me. You wouldn’t get that interaction in a larger space or more conventional set up with a stage.
    I’m probably waffling now but I’ll just add that I really enjoyed the show on Saturday too. And for me to say that when I’ve had to endure my private hell of a room full of kids is quite something! 😉
    The main thing that came across in both shows was that you just really enjoy playing and that’s what it boils down to!


    Kitty. (or Kitteh if you prefer)

    Ps. I will perfect a good origami giraffe before the summer is out! x

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